Fewer doctors visits due to COVID-19 will yield a surge of cancer diagnoses, physician says

Fewer doctors visits due to COVID-19 will yield a surge of cancer diagnoses, physician says
File photo doctor's office (Anne Karakash from Pixabay)

ATLANTA — A physician in Georgia is urging people to continue going to doctor’s appointments for routine screenings in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with WSB-TV, Dr. Jeffery Metts of Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Atlanta said a recent study indicates fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 has led so many people to forgo doctor’s appointments that tens of thousands of people could miss cancer diagnoses and treatments. He said as many as 80,000 cases of cancer could go undetected.

“Cancer diagnoses are down almost 40% compared to this time last year,” Metts told the news station. “We know there’s about 1.7 million cases of cancer diagnosed every year, and we know ... from many years of data.”

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He continued: “What we’re afraid of is this shadow curve that’s developing. This surge that we’re preparing for will lead us to having a larger number of diagnoses at a shorter period of time and there will be more advanced cases.”

Metts said medical offices have taken measures to make sure they are especially clean amid COVID-19, and facilities should share with patients what they are doing to keep offices safe. Patients should also feel free to ask providers what they’re doing to maintain a safe environment. That way, Metts said, patient fear decreases and people can get back to identifying issues and treatment.

“When safety measures have been implemented, it’s important to get your pap smear, your mammography, your colonoscopy, your PSA,” he said. “All the screenings in every single one of those is down 80 to 90% from last year.”

Read the original story on WSB-TV.com.

WSBTV.com News Staff contributed to this story.